REVIEW: Warcross by Marie Lu
I really enjoyed this, but in my opinion, it didn't live up to the hype.
As I tend to go in blind, I'm hesitant to give summaries of books myself, but here is the basic idea. This is a SF story about an eighteen-year-old hacker girl named Emika with rainbow hair, virtual reality, bounty hunters and an incredibly famous game: Warcross.
It's action-packed and has tons of fun scenes, the dark web, unexpected parts and twists, a girl with a talent that isn't undersold or underappreciated and a gorgeous cover.
Emika is Chinese/American, Hideo is Japanese, and there are plenty of diverse side characters. There's a character with a past m/m relationship, a character in a wheelchair, emotional trauma, childhood issues, and poverty. However. As much as I like Asher and the crew, Emika and Hideo felt like the only actual fleshed out characters. It would have been so cool to see more of the crew interact, to know and read more about them. I'm super glad they were diverse, and what we did see of them was great! I just wish it had been more.
I was impressed with our two most prominent characters, how well developed they were, their backstories, motivations, confusions, and moral compasses. Maybe we'll get to see more of that for the others in the next book?
Marie Lu did a great job of setting up a game and the world around it in this book. It felt believable, the world building is great, it didn't feel unrealistic at all. Technology is everywhere and all around, and I felt like that line from the book "everything is just science fiction until somebody makes it science" is really applicable to the theme and feel of this world. Warcross itself, the setting, the prompt and execution all felt really original.
Sadly enough, the last part of the book lacked a bit of the originality, thoughtfulness, and development that the rest of the book had. The revelation of Zero's identity felt a tad rushed and anticlimactic, and more predictable than I would have thought from a novel this original. I do really love the moral dilemma now posed, the question of freedom and its worth, so I am curious about the next instalment!
For some reason, I wasn't super invested in the romance. I don't know what happened, but I didn't feel it? Weird, because I love slow burn, snark and characters that hide behind walls, so this book had everything I wanted. The romance wasn't bad! This is probably a classic "it's not you, it's me" case. If I had been fully invested, this book would definitely be an obvious four stars, but now I feel like it's just not quite there? However, I do really like the moral dilemma (I love it so much I'm just repeating what I literally just said), the choices and implications, the questions about privacy and freedom and internet. But then again, those things only felt present in the last part of the book, so you see why I'm confused about my rating???
Anyway, I hope to see more of that in the next book, and also more crew, and more queer characters (though I always want more queer characters, so nothing new there).
Whilst I didn't stumble over this whilst reading (internalised ableism is real, y'all), Laura pointed this out in her review: "The author used the words crazy and insane to describe people or situations multiple times, which is ableist and hurtful." So please be mindful of that!